RoPA reforms – will they actually come to pass?

Published: 01/06/2022 By Musgrove & Co

The Regulation of Property Agents (RoPA) has returned to the agenda after the UK government confirmed it would consider implementing the recommendations seen in the final report.

While there remains no timescale for the introduction of proposed minimum standards and qualifications, it’s important to know and understand the implications for if and when the reform rolls out.

Here, we provide a breakdown of the RoPA reforms, the latest announcement from the government, and what we could expect to see in the future.

What are the RoPA reforms?

In July 2019, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government released a report detailing RoPA’s recommendations for industry licensing and qualifications.

The working group – made up of industry stakeholders and chaired by Lord Richard Best – was tasked with advising the government on a new regulatory framework to help raise professional standards in the industry.

The proposals, contained in a 54-page document, include:
•    All agencies should be licensed, and licensing should include a ‘fit and property person’ test for company directors.
•    Staff employed within residential agency business should be licensed and adhere to a Code of Practice.
•    All staff delivering ‘reserved activities’ in an agency should hold a qualification at Level 3 or above.
•    All company directors and management agents should hold a qualification at Level 4 or above.
•    A new regulator to oversee compliance with an overarching Code of Practice, with different parts binding on agents depending on their area of work.

At the time, Lord Best declared that the key proposal of a new regulator would likely be achieved within two years.

A commitment to RoPA reform

After nearly three years, the issue of RoPA returned to the Commons when the now renamed Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities was questioned on when the recommendations will be implemented.

The answer was largely reserved, with Housing Minister Eddie Hughes stating the government remained ‘committed to creating a fair and just housing system that works for everyone’.

Hughes said this commitment includes raising professionalism and standards amongst property agents – letting, estate and managing agents – to protect consumers, and defend the reputation of good agents from the actions of rogue operatives.

Commenting on the news, Timothy Douglas, head of policy and campaigns at Propertymark, said: “There is political appetite for the UK government to respond to the RoPA report and implement its recommendations.”

“The property sector is going through significant change with legislation impacting leaseholders, economic crime and the purchasing of property from overseas buyers, proposals to reform private renting and new building and fire safety requirements.”

He continued: “These changes are important but without regulating and driving up standards for sales, lettings and managing agents who will implement these rules and work with consumers often at the start of their home buying and renting journey, the UK Government risk only doing half a job when it comes to levelling up the housing market.”

Will we see reform any time soon?

Frankly speaking, the RoPA legislation has been a long time coming, and many agents have endeavoured to gain level 3 qualifications and above before the law is enacted.

Although separate to the Renters’ Reform Bill, RoPA has some overlapping legislation, which could mean that it might get added to the bill.

However, the RoPA bill has yet to pass the Second Reading, inevitably raising eyebrows across the board, as this points to even further delays to legislation, or possibly no legislation altogether.

But as is the case with other property reforms, the combination of global issues such as the war in Ukraine and the cost of living crisis means there is unlikely to be time to push these laws through.

Fortunately, agents have plenty of time to plan their strategies and get preparations in order in the events of these reforms coming into play.

Here at Musgrove & Co, we are an independent estate agent providing local market expertise in Norfolk. Our goal is to offer a seamless property buying or selling journey, while adding value wherever we can. For more information, please contact us today at either or Norwich or North Walsham office.

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